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George Calnan '20

Date of birth: January 18, 1900

Date of death: April 4, 1933

Age: 33

Lucky Bag

From the 1920 Lucky Bag:


1920 Calnan 1.jpg

George was lost when the airship USS Akron (ZRS 4) crashed off the coast of New Jersey on April 4, 1933.

Akron's executive officer, LCDR Herbert V. Wiley '15, one of only three survivors, was filmed shortly after the crash:


"LT GEORGE C. CALNAN swears the Olympic Oath on behalf of all Olympic athletes at the 1932 Olympic Games opening ceremony, Olympic Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA."

From Find A Grave:

Lt. Calnan was a Champion swordsman, and competed in Fencing in the 1928 and 1932 Olympic Games. In Amsterdam in the 1928 Games, he won a bronze medal, which was a major upset in an era when American fencers were not usually competitive internationally. Calnan competed again in 1932 winning two team bronze medals, just a year before his death.

Additional information provided by contributor Dave & Joyce Humphrey

He is a member of the US Fencing Hall of Fame.

From Together We Served:

Lt. Calnan learned to fence at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis and became team captain in 1919. A brilliant fencer, he went to the Olympic Games in 1928 and during the individual epee competition he acknowledged a hit that the judges did not see. This act of sportsmanship cost him the match and the gold medal. He finished with a bronze, but to many, that bronze medal was worth more truly won than the gold would have been under false pretenses. The International Olympic Committee must have thought so, too, because they invited him to recite the Olympians' Oath at the 1932 Games on behalf of all the athletes, an obviously extraordinary honor.

He did not begin fencing until Plebe year.

Related Articles

William Moffett '90, Fred Berry '08, Henry Cecil '10, Frank McCord '11, Harold Maclellan '18, Joseph Severyns '20, Richard Cross, Jr. '21, Herbert Wescoat '23, Robert Sayre '24, Charles Callaway '24, Hammond Dugan '24, Charles Miller '25, Morgan Redfield '26, Wilfred Bushnell '26, and Cyrus Clendening '27 were also lost aboard Akron.

Class of 1920

George is one of 27 members of the Class of 1920 on Virtual Memorial Hall.